Taking in stray animals was always a passion of mine. Sometimes this became expensive if it entailed a visit to our veterinarian or pet groomer before I was able to find home for the abandoned strays.
In Florida, people were always dropping off the unwanted creatures along our road. I almost dreaded coming home from work knowing some (apologetic) but lost little friend awaited me. After I got them ready for adoption, I ran an ad in the paper. Let me tell you, those seeking a pet need not pull up in front of my house in a junker, with a flock of dirty children stuck to the car windows with bubble gum!
In my continuous work with animals, friends became involved with me and we formed the first Humane Society in DeSoto County. We prided ourselves on finding responsible, loving homes for those animals.
Among two of my dearest favorites were “Manny” and”Irma,” that I could not bear to part with.
A friend found “Manny” in the field next to his house. Of course, he brought him to me. I named him “the little old man” and called him “Manny.” He was a tiny dark brown chihuahua, so old and bow-legged he could hardly get around. I took him to our vet immediately for an examination and shots. The little fellow had apparently been living on seeds and berries in that field but was in surprisingly good health. He had cataracts in both eyes but was able to get around in our house for quite a while. Then, one day, I found him beginning to bump into furniture and this grieved me.
The man who “took me for better or worse” sympathized with me and set about to build the little guy his own pen and weather-proof house next to Mick’s office. We placed a nice bed on the floor of his house and I added some old sweaters to make it soft for him.
I usually got off work at about 4 p.m. and “Manny” knew the sound of my car when I turned into the barn lot and came out of his house to bark a welcome for me. (It was somewhere between a bark and a croak.) I kept a porch chair outside his pen and would pick him up, sit and hold him, love him and tell him about my day.
One afternoon, he failed to greet me and stricken, I knew the worst. My daughters and I found a fancy wooden box for “Manny” and buried him tearfully with an elaborate ceremony in our garden.
And then, came “Irma.” Some heartless wretch had dropped her off near our house. She had made a nest in a ditch near our driveway. I began feeding her and giving her big pans of water so she could survive the Florida heat. I also fell in love with her and began leaving a trail of pieces of wieners all the way to our back door. Finally, she got the message and I looked back to see her following me into the house. I was delighted.
I took her to our faithful vet’s for an examination and shots. He said she was “quite old” but in apparent good health. She had had numerous puppies in her long life, he added.
Next, I took her to my friends at the “Pet Parlor” and when I picked her up after work, she was snow-white, fluffy, smelled good and was wearing a lavender neck scarf to match the lavender polish on her nails. I swear to you, that dog was smiling!
Our family immediately fell in love with “Irma” and Mick took her with him every place he went in his pickup truck. She slept at night on a pillow under the television stand in the den.
She began developing heart problems and the vet was able to give her shots to help her breathing.
One night, she crawled under our youngest daughter’s bed and went to “doggy heaven.”
“Manny” and “Irma” are long gone, now, but we still remember them and what they meant to us.
I’m sorry but I can’t forgive those cruel people who abandoned them.
Jean Mickle is a local resident who writes columns for the Record-Herald.